August 15, 2015

DROOPY, MASTER DETECTIVE

DROOPY, MASTER DETECTIVE
(FOX, September 11-December 4, 1993)


Hanna-Barbera Productions, Tuner Entertainment

MAIN CAST:
Don Messick – Droopy
Charlie Adler – Dripple, Lightning Bolt the Super Squirrel, Screwball Squirrel
Teresa Ganzel – Miss Vavoom
Frank Welker – McWolf, Dweeble, Wildmouse, Grunch
William Callaway - Rumpley

            Spun off from Tom and Jerry Kids, Droopy, Master Detective was a spoof on detective films and cop shows with a faux film noir style. It focused on Droopy (Don Messick) and his son, introduced in the Kids show, Dripple (Charlie Adler) as detectives. They worked on various cases from thefts to kidnappings to protecting the rich and famous in various time periods. Like many other Hanna-Barbera productions, the series was broken up into three story segments per episode. The first and last segment usually featured a Droopy adventure both with and without Dripple as he faced off against his eternal enemy, McWolf (Frank Welker). As Droopy’s role and time period changed, so too did McWolf’s profession; ranging from a rival detective to a disgruntled superhero.

Droopy and Dripple on the case.

            The second segment usually centered around another Tex Avery creation: Screwball Squirrel. Screwball first appeared in the 1944 short Screwball Squirrel Avery made during his tenure at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Voiced by Wally Maher, Screwy was brash and erratic and took cartoon physics to the extreme; pulling objects out of thin air, creating duplicates of himself, breaking the fourth wall and so forth. Screwy usually spent his time torturing his enemy, typically portrayed by Meathead Dog (Dick Nelson). Screwy did not fare as well as Droopy with audiences, generally perceived to be an unsympathetic and annoying character. Avery seemingly killed Screwy in his fifth short, Lonesome Lenny (1946) and never used him again.


Screwball with Rumpley and Dweebie.

            Screwy resurfaced in cameo form and a mention in 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit (which also featured Droopy), and served as the basis for both the characters of Slappy Squirrel on Animaniacs and Sledgehammer O’Possum from Cartoon Network’s What a Cartoon. Screwball (never Screwy, voiced by Adler) was revived for Master Detective and was given new rivals in the form of Dweebie (Welker) and his dog, Rumpley (William Callaway). Dweebie was the attendant of the park where Screwball had taken residence and refused to leave. Screwball was seen frequently in a t-shirt and Napoleon hat.

Title card from the sole Wildmouse segment.

            Three of the segments were populated by other characters from the Kids show. One segment featured Wildmouse (Welker) being hunted. Two others featured the character of Lightning Bolt the Super Squirrel (Adler). Produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in association with Turner Entertainment Company, Inc., the series ran for a single season as part of the Fox Kids! programming block; replacing its parent series briefly in the Saturday morning schedule. The series was then removed from the air after its initial run until it was seen again in the summer of 1994 on weekday afternoons on Kids’ WB. The series’ theme was composed by Gary Lionelli and featured lyrics by Joseph Barbera.

Droopy and Dripple on McWolf's case.

            While Droopy would return to Saturday mornings in Tom and Jerry Tales, Screwy faded again into relative obscurity. In 1996, Dark Horse Comics published Comics and Stories which featured Screwball. In 1997, Cartoon Network ran an edited version of the short Happy-Go-Nutty (removing a blackface gag) repeatedly for 12 hours as an April Fool’s prank, while sister station Boomerang would feature him in their station identification segments after 2005. In 2013, Screwy (Paul Reubens) and Meathead (John DiMaggio) appeared in the film Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure along with Droopy (Joe  Alaskey).


EPISODE GUIDE:
“Queen of the Mutant Weirdo Vampires / Screwball Snowballs / Shadowman and the Blue Pigeon” (9/11/93) – Droopy and Dripple protect a horror movie actress. / Screwball uses snowballs to torment Dweebie and Rumpley. / Droopy and Dripple team up with a superhero to protect a gem from a criminal.

“Droopy and the Cyberdolts / Pickax Max / Hey! Where’s Armold?” (9/18/93) – Droopy investigates a gang of robots in the future. / Screwball protects his park from a prospector. / Droopy and Dripple must find the Raj’s pet elephant.

“Return of the Yolker / A Chip off the Old Blockhead / Mighty McWolf” (9/25/93) – The Yolker goes after a priceless egg. / Rumpley coaches Dweebie on catching Screwball. / A former hero goes berserk.

“Deep Swamp Droopy / Dog Breath Dweebie / Hogswild” (10/2/93) – Droopy and Dripple participate in a riverboat race against McWolf. / Dweebie recounts the exploits of his pirate ancestor. / Lightningbolt and Super Squirrel face off against a pig motorcycle gang.

“Primeval Prey / Dweebie’s Worst Nightmare / Battle of the Super Squirrels” (10/9/93) – An explorer pursues Wildmouse. / Screwball plagues Dweebie’s dreams. / Lightningbolt competest with Thundergut to see who’s the best hero.

“The Babyman Bank Heists / Dweebie’s Night Out / The Deep Space Case” (10/16/93) – Droopy and Dripple are after a baby-faced crook. / Screwball keeps Dweebie up after a wild night out. / Droopy and Dripple are hired by an alien girl.

“The Monster Mob / Everybody Out / Sherlock Droopy” (10/23/93) – A mobster seeks helps from monsters to evade Droopy. / Dweebie and Rumpley try to get rid of Screwball. / Sherlock Droopy goes against his arch-nemesis Professor Wolfiarty.

“Dueling Detectives / Squirrelicious Obnoxiousness / Sherlock Droopy Gets Hounded” (10/30/93) – Droopy and Private Eye McWolf compete to see who solves a case first. / Screwball uses his new designation as an endangered species to his advantage. / Sherlock Droopy goes against the Baskerton Hound.

“Auntie Snoopie / Demolition Disorder / Mushu McWolf” (11/6/93) – Droopy gets a visit from his overprotective aunt. / Dweebie and Rumpley team-up with Screwball to save the park. / Droopy goes after a kung-fu criminal.

“Sheep Thrills / Screwball Out West / The Maltese Fossil” (11/13/93) – Droopy and Dripple are hired to guard a flock of sheep. / Screwball follows Dweebie and Rumpley on their dude ranch vacation. / Prehistoric Droopy defends a rare dinosaur skeleton from a crook.

“The Case of Pierre le Poulet / Commotion on the Ocean / Alligator Droopy” (11/20/93) – Droopy goes after an art thief. / Screwball follows Dweebie and Rumpley on a cruise. / Droopy and Dripple investigate the disappearance of wallabys.

“Droopy’s Deep Sea Mystery / Can We Miss You If You Don’t Go Away? / Droopy and the Case of the Missing Dragon” (11/27/93) – Droopy and Dripple aid a mermaid. / Dweebie and Rumpley try to trick Screwball out of the park. / Droopy and Dripple investigate a missing jade dragon.

“Round ‘Em Up, Bub / A Screwball Romance / The Case of the Snooty Star” (12/4/93) – Wild West Droopy and Dripple face off against Mad Dog McWolf. / Screwball helps Rumpley with his girl troubles. / Droopy and Dripple guard a snobby actress.

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